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Benedict Cumberbatch’s imaginary friend

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Panos Cosmatos’s dark cosmos, Sony’s $26 bn, Leonardo Da Vinci biopic, composer biopics galore, and a chess match.

Let’s go!


Panos Cosmatos’s (dir: Mandy) blood-saturated imagery births new dimensions in cinema.

His debut, Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010), locates us squarely into a futuristic commune doubling as an asylum. The watching experience makes one feel like they’re a patient under heavy hallucinogens.

His sophomore cinematic psychosphere, Mandy (2018), is best epitomized by a scene of Nicolas Cage forging a medieval battle axe and then doing a massive bump of cocaine.

Cosmatos will now direct Flesh of the Gods, an ‘80s LA vampire rave drama.

The attachments are insane:

  • Flesh of the Gods
    • Starring: Oscar Isaac, Kristen Stewart
    • Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en, The Killer)
    • Producer: Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up)
    • Sales Rep: CAA, WME, XYZ Films

Here is the official synopsis:

Married couple Raoul (Isaac) and Alex (Stewart) each evening descend from their luxury skyscraper condo and head into the city’s electric nighttime realm. When they cross paths with a mysterious and enigmatic figure known as Nameless and her hard-partying cabal, the pair are seduced into a glamorous, surrealistic world of hedonism, thrills and violence.

Cosmatos stated:

“Like Los Angeles itself, Flesh of the Gods inhabits the liminal realm between fantasy and nightmare… Both propulsive and hypnotic, Flesh will take you on a hot rod joy ride deep into the glittering heart of hell.”

There’s no better director to ride into hell with. To the nine circles, we go!

For More:

Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010) trailer.

Mandy (2018) trailer.

The Mandy battle axe forging sequence. Cage is in wonderful form.


Sony and Apollo formalized their partnership with a joint offer to buy Paramount for $26 bn. This offer comes as Skydance’s 30-day exclusive negotiation closes today. Shari Redstone still adamantly wants to move forward with Skydance, as the Sony/Paramount combo would split up her media empire. The saga continues… and the shareholders are not happy.

Cannes and the Mystical Star package. The hottest package at Cannes is currently Sacrifice, starring:

  • Anya Taylor-Joy
  • Chris Evans
  • Salma Hayek
  • Brendan Fraser

Here’s the official logline:

A high-end charity gala is raided by a violent group of radicals on a mystical quest to fulfill a prophecy.

The director and co-writer is Romain Gavras, who directed the Venice premiering, operatic, anarchic Athena (trailer). The other writer is Will Arbery (writer: 1 episode of Succession).

CAA Media Finance and Rocket Science are the worldwide sales reps.

Universal Pictures doubles down on technological legends. They will adapt Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo Da Vinci into a film. They previously adapted Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography into Steve Jobs (2015, starring Michael Fassbender). Andrew Haigh (All of Us Strangers) will write and direct. There’s no word on who they’re considering casting for Da Vinci.

Amazon MGM is getting a double dose of Robin Wright. Wright will direct and star in The Girlfriend.

Here’s the official synopsis of the book on which the series is based:

Laura (Wright) has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three-year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry (Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal). Cherry is young, beautiful, and smart but hasn’t led Laura’s golden life. And she wants it.

When tragedy strikes, a decision is made, and a lie is told. A lie so terrible it changes their lives forever…

Wright stated:

“I’m thrilled to be directing and acting in this wildly delicious psychological thriller filled with plot twists and surprising character turns, and to be working with such talented actors.”

No word on the production start date.


Austin Powers 4 is happening.


Benedict Cumberbatch plays a puppeteer, slowly losing his mind as the search for his missing son becomes dire. What starts as a fairly murder-by-numbers missing child Netflix drama slowly devolves as Cumberbatch’s Vincent, a puppeteer, throws himself into his newest creation, “Eric,” named after the monster his son drew before his disappearance.

Cumberbatch is no stranger to a good mystery, arguably bursting into the public eye as the titular Sherlock in the much-loved BBC Series running from 2010-2017. Cumberbatch breathed through that character like a chess master always controlling the room and trading any form of politeness or social awareness for a hyper-attentive genius-level ability to deconstruct every clue. As the character developed, Cumberbatch methodically made Sherlock more human, and it was fascinating to watch.

The greater public agreed, rocketing his star off into Hollywood even before the final season aired. He starred as another genius, Alan Turing, in The Imitation Game (2014). He lent his voice to many projects: see penguins, and he gave it everything he had when he did mo-cap for the fearsome dragon Smaug. More recently, Cumberbatch has shown a more whimsical side; he plays Dr. Strange in the MCU and teamed up with Wes Anderson on the delightful Henry Sugar.

In Eric, there is what appears to be a slightly twisted sweetness, in the devastated father and in the creature of Eric “who it appears he also will voice,” Cumberbatch shows versatility enough to play into the tragedy but also the implied absurdity.

Trailer here.

Best of Cumberbatch:

Eric releases on Netflix May 30th.

Tidbits and castings:

  • Encore
    • Starring: Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, Henry Winkler
    • Writer: Robert Nelson (Chocolat)
    • International Sales Agent: Protagonist Pictures (Sasquatch Sunset, The Florida Project)


A group of retired actors as they attempt to reignite their passion for life. Former Broadway icons Marie (Close) and Nigel (Irons) are new residents of a retirement home, where they discover a community of forgotten talents.

Motivated to revive Nigel’s passion for theater and embrace this new chapter in their life, Marie decides to stage a production with the residents, pulling everyone out of their past and into their present. This production will be their encore.

The film is launching at Cannes.

We vote that June Squibb (Thelma) joins the cast.

  • Power Ballad
    • Starring: Paul Rudd, Nick Jonas (The Jonas Brothers, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
    • Dir: Jon Carney (Once and Sing Street)


Rudd as a wedding singer and Jonas as a flagging pop star who come together to write a song to comedic consequences.

Production is underway in Ireland.

Paul Walter Hauser continues his winning streak with recent casting announcements (Chis Farley biopic as Farley, The Naked Gun), and he will now appear in Marvel’s new The Fantastic Four.

Anthony Hopkins is attached to play a famous composer in The King of Covent Garden. This continues the trend of post-Tar composing pics. It was recently announced that Bohemian Rhapsody editor John Ottman will direct a dramatic biopic based on the life of classic Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. And SKY Studios’ new series Amadeus has cast Gabrielle Creevz as Mozart’s wife. And John Malkovich plays a Romanian conductor in the upcoming The Yellow Tie.

Music to our ears.


Cannes Directors’ Fortnight is losing its memory. Memento International has boarded a very Memento-like film, Gazer.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Frankie, a young mother with dyschronometria, struggles to perceive time. Using cassette tapes for guidance, she takes a risky job from a mysterious woman to support her family, unaware of the dark consequences that await.

This is the debut feature of Ryan J. Sloan.

Cannes Market. Here’s a fast and furious project launch:

  • 11817
    • Dir: Louis Leterrier (Fast X, Transporter 1,2)

The official synopsis of the sci-fi horror:

Inexplicable forces trap a family inside their house. As both modern luxuries and life or death essentials begin to run out, the family must learn how to be resourceful to survive and outsmart who — or what — is keeping them trapped.

Seeing Leterrier move out of the fast lane with this project will be great. 3 Arts Entertainment serves as one of the production companies. CAA is the sales rep.


Meryl Streep will receive an honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Pamela Anderson stars in The Last Showgirl, a self-reflexive film about a showgirl who must figure out her life after a 30-year career in Vegas. First, look image of Anderson. Gia Coppola (Mainstream) directs.


A24 Trifecta:

1. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire director Adam Wingard is returning to his indie roots with the upcoming Onslaught. Wingard’s strongest indie is The Guest (2014, trailer), depicting an ice-cold stranger easing their way into a family’s home, perpetuating good deeds after good deeds. A24 will produce.

2. Checkmate! A24 secured the film rights to Checkmate, a book proposal by Ben Mezrich (author: The Accidental Billionaires, e.g., The Social Network) about a major chess scandal. Emma Stone and Nathan Fielder are set to reteam for this project, with Fielder directing and Stone producing. A24 was apparently hyper-aggressive and offered a 30-minute window for the author’s team to approve/deny their 7-figure deal. We envision they sent them a ticking chess clock, but it was probably done over a Zoom call.

3. Chris Van Dusen, creator of Bridgerton, is developing a TV series adaptation of Elle Kennedy’s novel Girl Abroad with A24 and Pacesetter Productions. The project, involving the daughter of a retired rock star caught in scandal and romance in London, was secured after a competitive four-way bidding war.


2002. Spider-Man, starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin, premieres.

That’s all for the week. See you Monday!

Written by Gabriel Miller and Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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